Thursday, July 28, 2016

Tales of illustrators

Now I'm an illustrator without formal art training. However, I've taught Photoshop and Illustrator in my distant past (plus dozens of other software programs across multiple platforms), so I'm ok with jumping into this new role.  I stumbled upon some Youtube videos by Aaron Blaise, a former Disney artist. He worked on Beauty and the Beast and (I think) Aladin. He's got some credibility!

Aaron's website is, and you can subscribe to a host of different art lessons or

 buy his custom Photoshop brushes. He also has a YouTube account, The Art of Aaron Blaise, 
where I found some of his free video posts. They are really terrific, and I've done some binge 

I've also subscribed to Adobe's Creative Cloud suite of products. There is a great price for 

students and teachers. Unfortunately, I've had a real glitch with their payment process, and 
they have been unable to understand and then unable to fix the error thus far. Since there is 
only the option to pay the monthly fees in order to use the product. I'm stuck. It's a very 
frustrating situation.  They've even got multiple subscription payments coming from my Paypal 
and my bank accounts, which I am unhappy about. They say they'll fix that error, but all 
payments ar stuck "in process." 

I'm stuck in process.

I bought a Wacom Intuos drawing pad, and I'm enjoying getting to "know" it better.  It came 
with some simple software, so I can get the feel of drawing on a tablet still while Adobe is 
struggling to provide me with the software. I took Aaron's advice and did a rough, rough sketch 
on paper of the pages for my books so that when I get on my computer, I'll have a plan in place.  
I've already discovered some problems with the initial sketches that need sorting through. It's 
almost like finding plot holes that you have to think through. 

I'm anticipating that once I really get deep in, I'll find my own process and the art will flow 

more naturally.  For now, I'm practicing drawing the characters, since they MUST look the 
same as the first book.  I can say this much - I'm a writer by nature and by heart. I can do the 
illustrations to finish this series, but it's not going to be a career change for me. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Changes - as the wind blows...

The winds of change often blow you away (see what I did there), creating high strung emotions until you sort out the details.  As it happens, my second illustrator quit just weeks before the production date for publication... sounds oh so familiar.  But this time, I'm so ok with the situation.

I was concerned when the illustrator sent me the first drafts of what he thought Baxter should look like.  I said so many times that Baxter needs to look just like Baxter from the first book. He sent me a second version - closer, still no cigar.

The date for publication came closer and closer, and I hadn't seen all of the illustrations. When he sent them to me, I was disappointed. When I looked closer at each illustration along side the text it was supposed to illustrate, I was dumbfounded at how off the pictures were from the text.  In case I was falling into snotty author mode (I second guess myself all the time), I showed the pictures to my writing group and to my writing students. I also showed it to the language arts administrator in my school district, who has a very young child and is an expert in child literacy.  Consistently, the verdict was that these pictures were not consistent with the branding already created in book 1 or up to professional publication standards.

So next step - I WILL ILLUSTRATE the next two books! I'm very excited about it because I can do the work I need to do since we have an existing set of characters and a set artistic style.  In my past, I've done graphic manipulation work and taught Adobe software products. So now, I'm delighted that I will be able to create amazing books that are just what I want them to be.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

On scripts and children's books...

I've discovered a critical disconnect that has caused resistance on my part. I can't seem to get myself back into my original full-length script.  The reason is that my  original concept, poem, and the MFA course requirements for movie trailers and posters do not match with the current version of the script. The original ideas were more sci-fi, but the reality is all action/spies/intrigue. The technology ideas I started with only become the catalyst for my conflict, but not the driving theme.  A-ha!

Back to the drawing board - and that's a good thing.

The short I wrote with Brandon is now headed for contests. The funding isn't available to get it produced with the director we talked with. That's ok becuase we both like the original script in original form rather than the cut version the director wanted.  It's all good--either way is good. I like that we continue to move forward with it rather than let it sit and get stale.

My illustrator is reworking his illustrations to really fine-tune the tone from the first book, so we are moving forward there as well.

One of the challenges writers face is the speed bump or the stop sign in a project's life. We have to be flexible and adjust - a lot. The challenges each of these writing projects have brought me have been good for me.  At least I can say that I've met them each with an open mind and willingness to do what it takes to get them to production.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Well HELLO springtime!!!

I've been busy with my language arts and creative writing classes.  The kids have had a great time with our units in creative writing: fan fiction, movie scripts, humor and comedy, NaNoWriMo, and more.  We are starting our last unit, children's books.

My writing buddy,Brandon, and I wrote a short in record time. We already have a director interested.  He had changes he wanted to see, and I took it as a personal challenge to give him something even more amazing than the first script. (We really think the first script still has incredible merit and potential; it's going on its own to other realms: contests.)  I like being in the seat of a script writer. I understand how directors and producers have visions and constraints, so it's real teamwork to bring my ideas in line with what they want and what they can do.

My second children's book is currently titled Rainbow Tracks.   My new illustrator is making revisions and final touches to the illustrations, and I hope it will be out the end of May or in June. Yay!

I have a wonderful love in my life.  His name is Locksley. I adopted him as a rescue in February.

My mom has decided that I should be writing books about Locksley now. I've got a few ideas brewing, so we'll have to see. Life with Locksley is a BLAST!!!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

As my students soon embark on reading _Night_

I felt an urge to write a poem that transcends the decades from the Holocaust to our tumultuous world today.


Imagine as you read
Black on black
Human ashes against the midnight sky
the darkness of the soul, as
evil eats away all shreds of humanity

Imagine a leader today
one who speaks of building walls,
documenting anyone of a religion,
blocking entrance of anyone from a nation;
evil must eat away at his soul

Imagine the fear out there
mongers of open-carry,
protesters against human rights
The myopic view to save one's self above all others
evil eating away our decency

Imagine a world we can save
the kindness to help others
the compassion to serve all
a world of intention and purpose, where
evil prevails no more.

Friday, January 29, 2016

More developments in my writing world

January 2016 has been quite interesting. All of the sudden, writing opportunities are pouring in.

1. I contacted a dear friend of the family this summer about getting his deceased wife's memoir reprinted by my publisher. Unfortunately, her original files were locked, and it took him until now to get that figured out.  He contacted me that the files were open and ready; we are going to talk about sending it to the publisher.  Plus, he has a lot of stories for a possible follow up book that we are going to discuss. He'd like me to write it.

2. Another friend, an actress, has wanted to write, act, and produce her own one-woman show. She's asked me to help her co-write it.

3. My writing group tends to come up with cool and creative ideas for co-writing projects. One of the writers and I have already started the first steps for a new short.  We also talked about me going out to California this summer, where we might look at producing it.

4. Both of my children's books are now with my illustrator.  I hope that book #2 will come out in the spring and #3 in the fall.  Yay for Baxter!

I started back on writing daily "morning papers," from The Artist's Way.  It has helped me skim and purge the junk I need to get out of my head in order to focus on current projects.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Books are moving and grooving!

November and December were great months for getting my second and third children's books moving forward. Linkville Press got a new illustrator, and he has book 2 in hand. I submitted book three to my editor in December.  I'm hoping for a May publish for book 2 and a September for book 3.